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Apprenticeships for People with Disabilities

  • Synopsis: Last Updated: 2015-10-19 - Resources and information for employers and people with disabilities seeking apprenticeships in the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada


An apprenticeship is defined as a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a trade or profession with on-the-job training and often some accompanying study. Apprenticeships also enable practitioners to gain a license to practice in a regulated profession. Most of the apprentice training is done while working for an employer who helps the apprentices learn their trade or profession, often in exchange for their continued labor for an agreed period after they have achieved measurable competencies. Apprenticeships typically last 3 to 6 years.

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Resources and information for employers and people with disabilities seeking apprenticeships in the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada

An apprenticeship is a real job with training. Apprenticeships usually last for between one and four years depending upon the level of the program. Almost any type of apprenticeship can be made accessible and support is available while you learn and work.

Apprenticeship programs offer young adults, including those with disabilities, a career pathway that provides employment as the individual learns on the job. Doing an apprenticeship is a great way to earn a salary, get training and qualifications and develop your career.

Individuals who successfully complete an apprenticeship program become journey level workers and receive a widely recognized credential of skills attainment.

An Apprenticeship Provides:

  • A pathway from school to work
  • A way to get a head start in a chosen career.
  • Paid work and structured training that can be on-the-job, off-the-job or a combination of both.
  • Competency based - which means you can complete your training faster if you reach the required skills level.
  • An apprenticeship leads to recognized qualifications and skills which provide the basis for further education and training over the course of your working life.
  • Existing skills and prior experience are recognized and course credit granted, potentially reducing formal training time. Available as full-time or part-time, also available part-time in many schools.


Australian Apprenticeships encompass all apprenticeships and traineeships and combine time at work with training. An employer of an Australian Apprentice with disability may receive an incentive each week for a full-time apprentice, or a pro rata amount for a part-time apprentice.
Australian Disability Apprenticeships - Information & Fact Sheets


In Canada there are many federal programs that support persons with disabilities in obtaining employment opportunities. Information regarding apprenticeship programs, training, and grants for persons with a disability in Canada.
Canadian Disability Apprenticeships - Information & Fact Sheets


The number of U.K. disabled people in apprenticeships has more than tripled in the last 10 years. Many U.K. employers offer support or equipment to help you do your job. In England most apprentice vacancies are listed on the U.K. National Apprenticeship Service website.
U.K. Disability Apprenticeships - Information & Fact Sheets


Apprenticeship programs in the United States are regulated by the Smith-Hughes Act (1917), The National Industrial Recovery Act (1933), and National Apprenticeship Act, also known as the "Fitzgerald Act."
U.S. Disability Apprenticeship Information & Fact Sheets


Many employers are still reluctant to hire individuals with disabilities because they lack understanding about their abilities. In addition, they have fears about their responsibilities for providing reasonable accommodations. Yet, employing people with disabilities improves an employer's bottom line by reducing recruiting and training costs because they are productive capable workers who tend to stay with their employers longer. Also, in many cases, employers can receive tax, wage subsidy, and other benefits for hiring individuals with disabilities.

Quick Facts: Apprenticeship

  • Typically an apprenticeship is started at age of 15 and 18 after finishing general education. Some apprenticeships have a recommend or required age of 18. There is formally no maximum age, however for persons above 21 it is hard to find a company due to companies preferring younger ages due to the less cost of labor costs.
  • The modern concept of an internship is similar to an apprenticeship.
  • In Canada, each province has its own apprenticeship program.
  • The system of apprenticeship first developed in the later Middle Ages and came to be supervised by craft guilds and town governments.
  • The distinction between the terms apprentices and trainees lies mainly around traditional trades and the time it takes to gain a qualification.
  • Apprenticeship programs in the United States are regulated by the Smith-Hughes Act (1917), The National Industrial Recovery Act (1933), and National Apprenticeship Act, also known as the "Fitzgerald Act."
  • Apprentices mobility is the movement of students and teachers in Vocational education or training (VET) to another institution inside or outside their own country to study or teach for a limited time. The term is usually used in the context of European Union (EU) policy.

Latest Disability Apprenticeships Publications
1 - Wood Brothers' Ford Fusion to Change Look at Brickyard to Support Scholarship Program for Veterans Who Want to be Auto Technicians - Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers.
2 - Taskforce to Improve Accessibility of Apprenticeships for People with Learning Disabilities - Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Education, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, Nick Boles MP and Justin Tomlinson MP.
3 - U.S. Employers Who Train Apprentices - Return on Investment Study - Case Western Reserve University.
4 - U.K. Disability Apprenticeships - Information and Fact Sheets - Ian Langtree.
5 - Australian Disability Apprenticeships: Information & Fact Sheets - Ian Langtree.

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